Muthai, Aselefech win Delhi Half Marathon (Lead)

November 21st, 2010 - 3:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 21 (IANS) Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya was the fastest man while 2008 champion Ethiopian Aselefech Mergia returned to win the women’s event at the $2,10,000 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon Sunday.

Mutai, on his maiden visit to India, clocked 59minuntes 38 seconds to come on top in the 21-km race.

Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia recorded a timing of 59m and 39s to finish second. His countryman Yacob Yarso came third (1hour 7s).

“I thank god for this win. The weather was just perfect today and I feel I could have pushed myself more. Before I came here, everyone told me that Delhi will be extremely hot but this has come as a pleasant surprise,” said Mutai.

On his race strategy, Mutai said: “I started slow to accelerate after 10 kms. I lost rhythm in between as a lot of local residents were running on the same track. But I somehow managed to pull it off in the end.”

The Kenyan was tipped to win the race after two times champion Deriba Merga of Ethiopia pulled out at the last minute

Mutai took home $10,000 in prize money while the second and third placed finishers were richer by $15,000 and $10,000.

In the women’s event, Aselefech came back with a bang after missing last year’s edition to win it with a timing of 1h 8m 35s.

“I am happy to win the race. That is all English I know,” Aselefech blushed.

Another Ethiopian Merima Mohammad clocked 1h 8m 36s to come second. Yimer Wude of Kenya recorded the same time but settled for the third place after a photo finish.

Indian athletes also got the opportunity to showcase their skills in the world’s richest half marathon. Irappa D. Akki, with a timing of 1h 4m 32s, was the fastest among the Indian runners.

However, the army man, was far from happy with his effort.

“We are running at this pace for the last five years. So, naturally we are not pleased. Though, we do not get access to the best of facilities, I personally feel we could have done a lot better,” said Irappa.

Santosh Kumar, who came second last year, recorded a timing of 1h 4m 35s and retained his position. Ratti Ram Saini was third with a timing of 1h 4m 55s. Saini’s third place finish was bit of a surprise as his participation was confirmed only last night.

Lalita Babar, in her first attempt, came at top with a timing of 1h 18m 5s in the women’s category.

Kiran Tiwari was second (1h 18m 55s) and more than two minutes behind was Geeta Rani Tushir, clocking 1h 20m 13s.

The Indian winners got $4,000 each while the second and third place finishers took home $3,000 and $2,000.

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